Category Archives: Improvement techniques

Overall happiness – part of success?

Although my primary focus is in motivating success, the following article discusses how to achieve happiness – clearly part of a successful life! One could define success as simply being happy with life, a strong point could be made that generally happy people are actually more successful at any given task. So, how to be happy? Once again, we see some decent advice coming from real research and not new age baloney.

The article (link) discusses methods to improve one’s long term happiness by reviewing, before bed, each day’s “happy moments” and the reasons for the happy feeling.

 “As a motivational speaker and executive coach, Caroline Adams Miller knows a few things about using mental exercises to achieve goals. But last year, one exercise she was asked to try took her by surprise.

Every night, she was to think of three good things that happened that day and analyze why they occurred. That was supposed to increase her overall happiness. Miller was assigned the task as homework in a master’s degree program. But as a chronic worrier, she knew she could use the kind of boost the exercise was supposed to deliver.

She got it.

“The quality of my dreams has changed, I never have trouble falling asleep and I do feel happier,” she said.

Results may vary, as they say in the weight-loss ads. But that exercise is one of several that have shown preliminary promise in recent research into how people can make themselves happier — not just for a day or two, but long-term. It’s part of a larger body of work that challenges a long-standing skepticism about whether that’s even possible.

The article then discusses the work of Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania (whose work led to the “think of three happy things” idea) and psychologist Ed Diener of the University of Illinois. These researchers believe that emotions such as happiness are malleable, and thus improvable, with the proper tools, and they are working to discover these tools.

I have long believed that an individual’s emotional state and mental resiliency are huge factors in determining their success and general course in life and it is delightful seeing these researchers working towards an understanding of these important life factors.

Moving at the speed of change

The below graphic describes two key variables (focus of influence and speed of feedback) important to identifying which techniques are most useful to achieve success.

Focus of Influence
You can improve what you can change. If you are shooting free throws in basketball, you can change your stance, your strength, your movements, but you cannot change the ball size, the height of the basket, or the distance you must stand from the rim. In other words, all improvements in your free-throw percentage result from purely internal changes. Conversely, car salesmen market to the public, have no control over the quality of their product and can improve sales only by improving the quality of their interactions with potential clients.

Rate of feedback
Your ability to change is also dependent on the rate of receiving feedback on the success of your current methods. The quicker you receive feedback, the quicker you can modify your methods. Your golfing instructor stands watching and quickly suggests changes to your grip, your swing, that you can then immediately try to implement. Conversely, it may take weeks to shows results from a reputable weight loss program, and take from months to years to get useful feedback about book sales or career choices.

Coming up next, an overview of the recomended success techniques for these four main categories of situations.